Poems: New and Selected, 1987

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Mr. Boyd

"Jesus will take care of it,
my mother used to tell me—
Jesus, Jesus
that's all I ever heard,"

said Mr. Boyd the brakeman
one afternoon near dusk, as
we sat in the slatey clearing back of
Scarborough Station

and looked down at the Hudson where
a few small boats were veering—
"she died eaten up by cancer
with a big sappy smile on her face

still talking about Jesus—
I tell you, kid, it's the cats if
you can just believe in it"
(old Nick the Greek was fishing with

a handline from the dock,
chomping a fat Bull Durham plug
behind his drooped mustaches)
"but how you can believe in it—

that's the scramdam question,
with all the things we know these days
or think we know." His eyes
were two brush-covered caverns, as

he squinted far beyond me at
the Hudson and its sails,
scratching beneath one arm-pit
the denim smeared with oil.